Agile Techniques are Discipline from Within the Team, not Control from the PM


I'm at the 13ICSQ conference this week. One person (at least) was confused about agile processes:

Conference attendee: “Agile processes are a license to hack!!!!!!!”

JR: “No. Every agile team I've seen is highly disciplined. No hacking there. I'm sure there are people who say they're performing agile development, and they're just hacking, but truly agile teams are highly disciplined.”

Conference attendee: “Oh yeah? Well how come the project manager doesn't control the team's work?”

Aha! Because the team drives the project instead of the project manager having the illusion of driving the project, this person was confused. To make things worse, this person thought it was the testers' job to point out how wrong the developers were, not to provide information about the product under test.

Agile techniques are disciplines the developers, testers, and customers impose on themselves. The project manager facilitates discussions, removes obstacles, and checks on resources and velocity. The project manager doesn't have to control the team because the team controls itself. The test manager doesn't rub the developers' noses in their bad code because the incidence of bad code is lower and the developers discover the bad code first.

I don't think I was able to change this person's mind. But we did have a conversation that attracted other people's attention. I think I made some progress with them.

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